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Product details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press; New edition edition (1 Oct 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898706785
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898706789
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.5 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,091,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
When I was six or seven years old, I was convinced for a time that a monster lived in my bedroom closet. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Dec 1998
Format: Paperback
O'Brien has issued a wake-up call to conscientious parents in his latest book. We cannot take it for granted anymore that the entertainment aimed at our children is worthy of their attention. In fact, it may be harmful. The classic stories which teach us about good and evil (fairy tales, myths, classical literature) are being replaced or modified. The Dragon, the symbol of evil or chaos, is being tamed, leaving our children's souls in danger. O'Brien cites many examples of this in popular books and movies. I found his take on Disney movies very insightful and a little scary. Disney invariably belittles authority and religion, especially Catholicism. Yet this company is the world leader in feeding our children their steady diet of movies and videos. One only has to watch the Esmeralda dance in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" to question Disney's idea of 'family entertainment.' O'Brien doesn't leave you in the lurch, however, as he helps us discern what is good entertainment for our children. He also provides a comprehensive list of good literature -- and, thankfully, there's a lot of it out there. I hope every parent and educator reads this book. It is too important to be missed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Nov 1998
Format: Paperback
This book has wise guidance for parents who suspect that something has gone very wrong in what our culture serves up for consumption by children, but are not quite sure what it is or what to do about it. O'Brien reveals the pagan themes that are increasingly dominant in children's literature and films, discusses why they are destructive, and offers constructive alternatives. Especially illuminating (and entertaining!) are his analyses of the Disney films of the last 25 years. Included at the end is a very extensive list of recommended books for children of all ages. My only complaint is that his analyis is largely limited to the fantasy/science fiction genre of children's literature which is, admittedly, the most popular. But I would have been interested in his analysis of other genres, say historical fiction or (non-fantasy) adventure stories. This complaint is not decisive because O'Brien not only gives examples of dangerous literature, but educates parents to analyze literature for themselves.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Dec 1998
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be an eye-opening study on the effect and presence of neo-paganism found in pop culture and children's literature. Especially noteworthy is the section on Disney's animated films, in which O'Brien calmly and rationally analyzes and exposes certain trends in these films. This book will be particularly appreciated by parents, but it is also a fascinating read for students such as myself, and all those interested in culture and media.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steve George on 15 July 2013
Format: Paperback
If you are in the habit of flagellating yourself, wearing a hair shirt, and being offended by Monty Python's Life of Brian this is just the book for you, An unmitigated diet of prejudice based on a belief in a religion in which many people have lost faith, particularly since the revelations about Catholic priests' abuse of children and the church's attempts to keep that under wraps. I am offended by this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 33 reviews
130 of 139 people found the following review helpful
An excellent resource for parents 4 Oct 2000
By David Zampino - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In this volume, Michael O'Brien has provided both and invaluable service to parents (like myself) who want their children to read, but who are also concerned about much of the reading material currently available. He has analyzed children's literature, concentrating especially in the genre of fantasy and fairy story. He has clearly and cogently demonstrated how neo-paganism has become the dominant worldview of many authors in this genre.
Unlike many Christian authors, O'Brien has not made the mistake of throwing the baby out with the bath water. He does not lump all fantasy literature together in one category and toss it out. He carefully demonstrates the difference between good and bad fantasy literature, or, if you will, authentic and inauthentic fairy stories.
I do have a few points of contention, but they are minor, and detract very little from the overall value of the book.
1) CS Lewis is identified correctly as an Anglican -- a member of the Church of England -- but incorrectly as a member of that church's Evangelical wing. Lewis, in fact, attended a "High Church" parish, and strongly resisted political factions within churches.
2) JRR Tolkien is correctly held up as the model by which modern fantasy and fairy story should be judged. Having said this, very little actual analysis is provided for Tolkien's writings.
3) Similarly, in the book's "blurb", Charles Williams is held up -- but then not analyzed in the text. An analysis of Williams would have made O'Brien's concerns about Lewis' novel "That Hideous Strength" make more sense. (I'd still disagree with O'Brien on this one, but his case would have been stronger and easier to sensibly defend.)
4) O'Brien's analysis of Anne McCaffrey's "Pern" stories needed either to be fully developed, or eliminated entirely. O'Brien is using the image of the dragon as a neo-pagan symbol as one of the cornerstones of his book, and tries to place McCaffrey's "good dragons" within this context. To me, it was unconvincing.
Overall, an excellent book. As a final note to parents, O'Brien has helpfully added a lengthy appendix listing good (and usually available) books for children of all ages, arranged by level of difficulty and author. An extremely helpful resource for homeschooling parents.
46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Every Father Should Read This Book Once A Year 8 Sep 2004
By Maillew - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent and inspiring book. I use the word "inspiring" in the old fashioned sense of "it made me take action" not merely "it made me feel good."

I re-read this book every year or so, not only to dip into the wonderful appendix of recommended books, but to rekindle my courage and dedication to raising my sons. O'Brien writes in mythic tones as he recommends mythic literature. The old stories dealt with "powers and principalities" of good and evil, and O'Brien reminds us that it is ever so. Our children become flush-faced and wide-eyed at such stories, but we have allowed ourselves to be diluted and deluded into thinking that gray is the only reality. We lose not only black and white, but the primary colors as well!

O'Brien is a Catholic, a Christian - and is both unapologetic and unobtrusive with his convictions. That is, he makes clear the traditional rationale for his thinking, but the reader neither has to agree nor adopt those convictions to come to the same conclusions.

There are some books which one revisits again and again, and some authors you look forward to meeting and talking with. This book (and his Sojourners novels) and this author are in that category.
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
seldom boring 29 May 2001
By Paul Stilwell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'm a single twenty year old who has no children. I had read all of O'Briens fiction novels and was thirsting for anything by Michael O'Brien. So I bought A Landscape With Dragons and read it twice over completely enthralled with what I was reading. All of my sneaking suspicions and intuitions about the culture I basically grew up with were not only confirmed, but were enfleshed, and brought out in way that was spiritually horrifying yet courageous in Michael O'Briens sustaining, powerful, sinewy way. But again, as in all of O'Briens work, one is thankful that he doesn't simply do right-wing hugging. No, he convincingly calls us to prayer and implants succesfully, as always, that ferment and spear in our conscience. Chesterton is always for me, a huge formation in the way of looking. O'Brien is always for me, a huge formation in the way of seeking sanctity in order to be looked upon.
43 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Don't be misled, don't miss this book 28 Jun 2000
By Watching from Missouri - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The essential message of this book is that minds are at war for the redefinition of the way you and your children will think, and by implication, children of generations to come.
Traditional fairie tales expressed the influence the unseen world has on the world in which we live, but did so within the framework of a clear understanding of good and evil, right and wrong. Today's fairie tale is blurring the defining lines between these elements and creating a powerful, new (yet ancient) understanding that is degrading moral conscience and inviting young people to explore powers traditionally understood to belong to the 'dark side'. They even encourage friendship with any 'good' denizens of that dark side.
The original edition of this book was sub-titled "Christian and pagan imagination in children's literature." The second edition more clearly focuses on the immediate problem with its sub-title, "The battle for your child's mind." I read the original edition and was thrilled with the clear presentation of the dangers. This second edition is even more in-depth in its handling of the concepts and issues.
The reviewers of this book who speak negatively seem the rightful victims of the very forces exposed in the book. They give clear evidence of missing the point.
The point is not, "Are all snakes bad? Aren't any dragons good?" The point is that there is a malevolent mind, unrelenting, intent on destruction, at work at every level in our world, especially operative with tremendous effect in modern literature and visual media. To miss this point is to be a victim of the hypnotic forces of deception.
Those who read C.S. Lewis's 'Narnia' series will remember the Marsh Wiggle who burned his own foot in the fire in order to break the witch's hypnotic power over them. This book will help you burn your own foot in the fire so you can wake up.
Our culture is in motion, changing form, calling evil good and good evil, and many who are committed to 'good' are embracing the new forms as acceptable. When our culture has finally changed completely, will there be anyone there who will even know what happened?
This is a vitally important book. It is sound, sane, insightful, spiritual, discerning, and will enable readers to establish and maintain oases of light in the new dark ages that are already upon us. Don't miss it.
52 of 60 people found the following review helpful
That's not entertainment 1 Dec 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
O'Brien has issued a wake-up call to conscientious parents in his latest book. We cannot take it for granted anymore that the entertainment aimed at our children is worthy of their attention. In fact, it may be harmful. The classic stories which teach us about good and evil (fairy tales, myths, classical literature) are being replaced or modified. The Dragon, the symbol of evil or chaos, is being tamed, leaving our children's souls in danger. O'Brien cites many examples of this in popular books and movies. I found his take on Disney movies very insightful and a little scary. Disney invariably belittles authority and religion, especially Catholicism. Yet this company is the world leader in feeding our children their steady diet of movies and videos. One only has to watch the Esmeralda dance in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" to question Disney's idea of 'family entertainment.' O'Brien doesn't leave you in the lurch, however, as he helps us discern what is good entertainment for our children. He also provides a comprehensive list of good literature -- and, thankfully, there's a lot of it out there. I hope every parent and educator reads this book. It is too important to be missed.
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